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DODGERS FYI

Furcal getting closer to return

September 07, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

Mindful of the fact that he has not faced major league pitching since early May, Rafael Furcal said he did not want to risk a premature return that might hurt the Dodgers in the stretch run of a pennant race.

"You don't want to go out there on the field and screw up the game the way we play right now," Furcal said before the Dodgers defeated Arizona, 7-2, Saturday at Dodger Stadium for their seventh consecutive victory.

The shortstop, recovering from back surgery, fielded ground balls Saturday and said he felt "like 80%, 85%, better than before. I'm running full speed."

Manager Joe Torre said he would start thinking about playing Furcal in a week or so but did not envision him returning as an everyday player because of his protracted layoff.

Complicating Furcal's comeback is the fact that the minor league season has ended, precluding him from further testing his back in a rehab assignment before rejoining the Dodgers.

"Now you've got to think about the big leagues and hard work and doing the best you can do and see when you'll be fine," said Furcal, who underwent surgery on a bulging disk in his back July 3.

Kent still hopeful

Second baseman Jeff Kent, recovering from left knee surgery Tuesday, said he remained optimistic that he could play again this season.

"I don't know how long it's going to be, but I know that we only have a few weeks left," Kent said. "So if I didn't have a good outlook on what could happen in the next few weeks, I'd be doing something else and not here in gym shorts trying to get treatment."

Kent said the fact that surgery revealed no unexpected damage was "definitely good news."

He had played with discomfort in the knee for about a month before the torn cartilage "flipped over on itself" last week in Phoenix, preventing him from continuing.

Short hops

In a truth-can-be-stranger-than-fiction development, former major league castoff Angel Berroa appears to have supplanted former American League batting champion Nomar Garciaparra as the Dodgers' everyday shortstop. Berroa started his seventh consecutive game at the position Saturday, with Torre saying he would continue to play as long as he continues to excel. "He's pretty comfortable right now and the ballclub's doing well," Torre said of Berroa, who was one for two and is batting .391 during the seven-start stretch. "Nomar understands it. We've talked about it a couple of times." . . . Chad Billingsley has given up three runs or fewer in each of his last 11 starts beginning July 13, going 6-2 with a 2.48 earned-run average over that stretch.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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